Ailing Inge tries uncommon therapy

Ailing Inge tries uncommon therapy

DETROIT -- The Tigers' latest effort to alleviate the pain in Brandon Inge's left knee isn't common. But if it works, it could have Detroit's third baseman not only handling pain, but possibly reducing it.

As the Tigers' medical staff looked for ways to treat Inge's patella tendinitis without forcing him onto the disabled list, prolotherapy came up as an idea. It's a treatment that hasn't been used much in baseball, but at this point, the Tigers and Inge felt they could at least try it.

"We've been looking at a lot of different options to try to help him cope with it during the season and hopefully stimulate healing," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "We decided it was definitely worth a shot."

The term prolotherapy comes from the desired result: The proliferation of new tissue where a ligament or tendon has become weak. According to the Mayo Clinic's Web site, it involves an injection of some sort of irritant, such as a glucose solution, into an affected area that will alert the body to try to fix it.

"It's an injection to try to stimulate a healing response," Rand said. "This is designed to promote and initiate healing."

Inge took an injection after Saturday's game with the idea that the Tigers could give him two days off to rest the knee and see if it helps in time for Tuesday's series opener against the Mariners. With that in mind, manager Jim Leyland held Inge out of Sunday's loss to the Royals.

After Monday's off day, Inge played the entire game at third base on Tuesday, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout and making an error on a ground ball that went under his glove. Though Leyland said newly acquired designated hitter Aubrey Huff is able to spell Inge at third, Leyland expressed hope that Inge will be able to go the rest of the way without a lengthy absence.

At this point, the Tigers are waiting to see how his knee responds. If nothing happens, they'll be back to the point of dealing with Inge's knee pain.

Though Inge has struggled at the plate since the All-Star break, his value on the team lies beyond that. His defensive acumen at third has been a significant difference in the field, alongside the mix of Adam Everett and Ramon Santiago at shortstop. When Inge was out of Sunday's game, a pair of 10th-inning errors from Ryan Raburn marked Kansas City's go-ahead rally.

Moreover, Inge's home run on Friday gave the Tigers a 1-0 victory over the Royals.

Against a Mariners team that has struggled offensively but can capitalize on small plays, those plays on either side can be big. Inge is 1-for-5 with a double in his career meetings with Ian Snell, who will toe the slab for the Mariners on Wednesday.

Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Justin Verlander (13-6, 3.28 ERA)
The way Verlander is pitching in big games, it's becoming tougher to keep him out of discussions about American League Cy Young Award candidates heading into the home stretch. While he continues to lead the AL in strikeouts by a wide margin, Verlander is on the outside of the league leaders in wins, his latest victory coming from eight scoreless innings on Thursday in Boston. He threw 123 pitches in that game, but the Tigers hope the extra day of rest thanks to Monday's off-day makes up for the workload.

SEA: RHP Ian Snell (2-9, 5.84 ERA)
Snell's second start at Safeco Field lasted much longer than the first one, but he remains winless in his new uniform. Two first-pitch homers produced three of the first five runs he surrendered in a loss to the Yankees, but overall, his control was significantly better than his first Safeco Field outing, when he walked six in 1 1/3 innings. Snell needs to change speeds more often and stay away from the middle of the plate. Snell has faced nine of the current Tigers, having good success against Adam Everett (2-for-12) and not so much against Placido Polanco (5-for-10) and Magglio Ordonez (3-for-6).

Tidbits
Look for Magglio Ordonez to return to the Tigers lineup after sitting out on Tuesday night. He's 3-for-6 off Snell, while Placido Polanco is 5-for-10. ... Leyland said he's considering having Carlos Guillen and Huff trade places on Wednesday, with Huff in left field and Guillen as the designated hitter. ... Though the Tigers are a reliever short in the bullpen after optioning Eddie Bonine to Triple-A Toledo to make room for Huff, Leyland hinted that it won't be a long-term setup. "We'll play that by ear," Leyland said. "This could be a day-to-day thing." ... Dontrelle Willis is scheduled to officially begin his Minor League rehab assignment on Wednesday with a start for Toledo at Columbus.

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Up next
• Thursday: Tigers (Jarrod Washburn, 8-7, 2.95) vs. Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith, 2-1, 3.60), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Tigers (Edwin Jackson, 9-5, 2.85) at Athletics (Gio Gonzalez, 4-3, 5.88), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Tigers (Armando Galarraga, 6-10, 5.16) at Athletics (Trevor Cahill, 6-12, 4.97), 9:05 p.m. ET

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.